Kim works as a breast cancer researcher at a public university in northern California. She has worked in the field for more than a decade, having always been interested in research and passionate about women’s health issues. The prospect of saving lives and contributing to the scientific community continues to drive her work.
Kim, a native of the United Kingdom, experienced an unexpected obstacle in her research efforts and career advancement: public sector labor unions. In the UK, she worked in the public sector as well, where workers had to “opt-in” if they wanted to be a part of a union. However, at her first job in the US, she was shocked that she had no choice but to pay union fees in her job. This seemed to be contradictory to the long-held ideals of “American capitalism” she had heard so much about.
After several years in her position, Kim’s boss offered her a significant pay raise. However, union rules prevented Kim from accepting the increase. Unions claim to have workers’ best interests at heart, yet Kim found their “mob-like” mentality prevented her from being compensated for her research and hard work. Upon reaching out to her union for assistance and an explanation, she faced hostility and a clear unwillingness to help. Even her human resources department was unable to get involved, as the union essentially “owned” the job.
Ultimately, the university created a non-unionized position for Kim in order to circumvent her union’s obstacles. Although grateful to be out from under the thumb of unions, she still does not understand the purpose of punishing people like her and others in her field who have gone to school for many years only to be subjected to an archaic and punitive system.
Moving forward, Kim is thankful for the Janus decision and is glad resources like the My Pay, My Say campaign are available to assist public workers facing similar challenges with their unions.
*At her request, the real name of this public employee has been redacted to protect her from potential retribution from her employer or former union.